AndArchitects is confident its Rio 2016 Olympics Handball Arena will complete on time despite widespread concerns the Games’ construction is seriously behind schedule
As riots in the Brazilian city continue to hit the headlines, the London-based practice defended its high-profile, demountable scheme which is one of several venues yet to start on site with just two years to go before the Games.
Managing director Manuel Nogueira said: ‘It’s a temporary building and the speed to put it up is a lot quicker because a lot of it is made of offsite components. As long as it is done that way I can’t see any reason why there could be a delay.’
A recent two-week strike by construction workers on the Aecom-masterplanned main Olympic Park – where AndArchitects’ stadium is located – raised concerns the £9.5 billion project could be at risk. The nearby Deodoro Olympic Park – hosting eight sports – has meanwhile only just been tendered for contractors.
Earlier this month the International Olympic Committee (IOC) sent an emergency taskforce to speed up construction in Rio de Janeiro amid complaints from international sporting bodies that a ‘plan B’ may be needed if venues failed to complete on time.
Critics included International Handball Federation head Hassan Moustafa who warned action was needed to prevent completion of the Games being overshadowed by this year’s World Cup and presidential elections in Brazil.
Guardian columnist Simon Jenkins furthermore suggested the gargantuan project was only 10 per cent ready - whereas London 2012, he claimed, had been 60 per cent complete at a comparable time before the opening ceremony. Olympic officials however warned it would be ‘premature’ to relocate the games away from Rio before 2016.
Non-routine procurement meant a contractor was chosen for Rio’s Handball Arena in April nearly four months after AndArchitects’ completed tender documents for the 12,000-capacity building.
Explaining the delay, Nogueira said the job had been ‘probably the most awkward one to tender’ because the works included building the temporary venue and transforming the structure into four new schools following the games. ‘No one has done this before,’ he said.
Nogueira added: ‘The question now is whether it runs smoothly because a contractor has only just been appointed. My experience from temporary buildings on the London Olympics is that it starts to get tight so for the handball arena we need to get cracking now.’
He continued: ‘It starting ahead of time but it’s very tight and there might be things we can tweak to make sure we have the speed of buildability using the same components or alternative components sourced here in the UK.’
AndArchitects was one of two UK practices to land work on the upcoming Summer Olympics last march. The practice worked with Rio-based Lopes, Santos & Ferreira Gomes on the Handball Arena which will eventually become four schools hosting 500 students each.
3DReid was chosen to advise locally-based BLAC Architects on the early design of the Velodrome. Commenting on the wider games delivery, Graham Hickson-Smith of the practice said: ‘I’m sure they will pull the rabbit out of the hat in the last minute.’
He said the London Olympic Games faced similar concerns but ‘two years ahead we pulled out all the stops and we put on a fantastic show.’
Aecom won a raft of additional design work – including seven Olympic venues – last summer. The practice is masterplanning the main Olympic Park, on 120ha of land in the district of Barra de Tijuca, with Wilkinson Eyre.
Both Aecom and Wilkinson Eyre were unavailable to comment.